Netanyahu allies in Israel plow ahead on legal overhaul

JERUSALEM, 13 Mar: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political allies pressed ahead Monday with their plan to overhaul the judiciary, advancing a bill that would protect the long-serving leader from calls that he be removed from office over his corruption charges.
The steps were the latest in a series of legislation seen by critics as concentrating power in the ruling coalition’s hands. The government has pledged to plow ahead with the legal changes despite widespread opposition.
Since taking office in December, Netanyahu and his far-right coalition have advanced a raft of legislation seeking to overhaul the country’s judicial system and further entrench the power of the executive. These have prompted widespread protests by a large section of Israeli society, with demonstrations drawing tens of thousands of people taking place weekly for the past two months.
Netanyahu and his ultranationalist and religious coalition allies say the judicial overhaul aims to rein in an activist Supreme Court. Critics say the measures will erode the country’s delicate system of checks and balances and concentrate power in the hands of the governing majority in parliament.
Despite the outcry and calls for compromise on these issues, the government has been plowing ahead on its overhaul. A Knesset committee approved a bill on Monday that would only allow parliament to declare a prime minister unfit to rule for physical or mental reasons. Such a measure would require approval by three-quarters of the government, and could be overridden by the prime minister.
The law currently opens the door for a leader to be removed under other circumstances and the bill moving through parliament appears aimed at preventing Netanyahu from being forced from office due to his ongoing trial. Good governance groups and other critics have called on the country’s attorney general to deem Netanyahu unfit for office. (AP)